Joel Embiid injury: Kansas center might miss time with sprained knee, sore back

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas could be without its star big man for the upcoming schedule. SB Nation 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Coverage

Kansas center Joel Embiid has emerged as an unlikely favorite to go No. 1 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft amid a strong class of freshman, but the Jayhawks big man hasn't looked himself since the start of February. After Embiid left the arena with an ice pack on his left leg and a bothersome back following Kansas' 85-82 overtime loss to in-state rival Kansas State on Monday night, coach Bill Self said his star big man may miss some games.

"I don’t know," Self said. "We’re going to re-evaluate. We’ve known since last week that we were just going to try to get through (K-State on Monday). There’s nothing structurally that he’s dealing with, but he’s beat up, obviously.

"His body has taken a toll here the last two or three weeks."

When Embiid decimated a small Iowa State team on national television on Jan. 29 to finish with 14 points and 11 rebounds, it was the 10th time in 11 games the center had hit double-figures in scoring. In the four games since, Embiid has reached double-figures in scoring just once, when he posted 11 points against West Virginia on Feb. 8.

Embiid was clearly limited on both ends of the court on Monday. Kansas State shot 49.2 percent from the floor and beat Kansas inside throughout the night. Embiid finished with six points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. His lack of impact on the defensive end was more noticeable than his shortcomings offensively on the night.

The seventh-ranked Jayhawks' next game is at home against TCU (9-13, 0-10) on Saturday, a winnable contest even without their freshman center. Kansas plays another tuneup against Texas Tech on Feb. 18 before hosting No. 19 Texas on Feb. 22.

The Jayhawks have seven games remaining before the start of the Big 12 conference tournament.

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